Wakandans, rejoice: The official review embargo on writer-director Ryan Coogler’s highly anticipated Black Panther has lifted, and the news is nothing short of stellar. There was plenty of buzz after the superhero film’s premiere, briefly sullied by an angry, discrimination-fueled contingent of moviegoers set on tanking the film’s audience scores (those efforts have since been booted).
Now that the reviews are pouring in (and the tweets about those reviews), it’s clear that Marvel’s latest addition to its cinematic universe — a saga about an African super-king saving his people — is one of its best.
Socially conscious, action-heavy, and with a killer score, the film, reviewers say, doesn't disappoint as either a superhero film, a part of a larger universe, or one of the only modern genre films catering to a black audience.
With praise lavished on the film’s acting (especially on villain Michael B. Jordan) and the film's narrative weight in its storytelling, there’s plenty to be excited for when Black Panther hits theaters (and most likely breaks at least one more box office record) on Feb. 16.
Here's what the critics have to say:
Rolling Stone's Peter Travers calls the film a "masterpiece" of basically every part of the filmmaking process. "Black Panther is an epic that doesn't walk, talk or kick ass like any other Marvel movie – an exhilarating triumph on every level from writing, directing, acting, production design, costumes, music, special effects to you name it," Travers gushes. He notes that kids and adults waiting for a superhero that looks like them on the big screen, as well as moviegoers privileged enough to be represented, already have "an answered prayer, a landmark adventure, and a new film classic."
Variety praises the film as an awesome celebration of a superhero that "actually feels more like a James Bond adventure than a conventional superhero movie at times." Calling attention to the politics inherent in the film's plot, the review praises Coogler's plot, which "revives the age-old debate between Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X — between passive resistance and the call for militant black activism."
The Hollywood Reporter comments on the stakes of the film, in which "there's a real and sustained sense of jeopardy for the kingdom," and the action, which "significantly involves the female warriors, who are very cool indeed." Giving props to Coogler's directorial history of capturing intensely personal conflict in violence, THR says that "just as he staged the boxing in Creed with intensity and invention," there is "freshness and brio, building to a tensely stirring climax" in the film's combat.
The New York Times — that's right, the Times — heaps on the love, calling Black Panther "an emblem of a past that was denied and a future that feels very present." Lead actors Chadwick Boseman and Jordan are the focus of much of the review, with their opposite-pole magnetism highlighted and their charisma duly noted. No other superhero movie has had its "wonder with great flair and feeling" observed by the paper.
On the other coast, the The Los Angeles Times is of the same mind. Black Panther is "a superhero movie whose characters have integrity and dramatic heft, filled with engaging exploits and credible crises all grounded in a vibrant but convincing reality, laced with socially conscious commentary as well as wicked laughs that don't depend on snark," says critic Kenneth Turan. "This is the model of what an involving popular entertainment should be."
Other praises comes from The Wrap, which hails Black Panther as "thrillingly alive," and Forbes, which calls the film a crossover "triumph of universal appeal and demographic specificity." (Check out more critics' reviews on Rotten Tomatoes' Black Panther page.)
The tweets were just as excited:
Get ready to enjoy the best Marvel has to offer in a little over a week so you can see for yourself.